The study of Karate is often associated to just kicking and punching but it is much more than that. There is a world of knowledge beyond the physical practice. The masters often describe this aspect of training as the “meta-physical” aspect of the art. I would like to share my thoughts on how I have incorporated some of the teachings of the great Karate Masters. Enjoy!
“The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”
- Practice regularly – One must practice Karate whenever there is any spare time. Regular training allows the Karateka to develop connections with individual movements and a tendency towards habitual behaviour. In time, this discipline and rigour in training eventually spills into academic and work life.
- Practice one thing only – There is often a tendency to practice many techniques or Kata during training. This is ok but as long as your focus is on one thing. For example you could be working on Kata and Kihon but your focus could be on certain techniques or drills rather than trying to cover too much ground.
- Keep it simple – No matter what you are practicing or trying to learn. Always break it down and simplify the movement. Your techniques must always stay true to your kihon (basics) and bunkai (application). Do not try to over complicate the movement or the application and remember there are layers of application. Simple to Advance and beyond…
- Visualise your opponent – All practice must be in context. So if you are practicing a new drill or strike then ask yourself… will this work? Perhaps practice with a fellow Karateka and stress test the movement. Visualising is a powerful tool and can help improve performance at school or work.
- Reflect – We often learn new things and never think or go back to what was done in the past. One must always reflect on their training if even if its for a few minutes. This thinking can be applied to anything and has a myriad of benefits. Tip: When reflecting take yourself outside of the event and watch yourself learn or do what you was doing. And then ask your self this question; how would I do this differently?
- Develop training rituals – Everything we do in our lives involves some kind of ritual or routine that we carry out without thinking. For example, preparing food or getting ready for school or work. In Karate one must also develop a ritual of training that allows you to prepare your mind for practice. I often use my Karate rituals to help me prepare for a big meeting or important event.
- Ring fence your Dojo time – In my experience I have found that students do not allocate enough time for Dojo or practice, thus leading to numerous gaps in knowledge and technique. It is essential to draw a boundary around your Dojo time so that routine and practice are not compromised. This principle can also be used when you are setting personal goals and aspirations. Remember; once you start to muddy the waters, it is very difficult to find clarity in anything.
- Sit – Basic meditation (Zazen) does not have be done only in the Dojo. You can sit anywhere. Remember to devote time to sitting and do nothing! This will allow you to reset all senses and empty your thoughts. Sitting is the route to Mindfulness which is buzz word these days… Actually Mindfulness can help solve many of today’s social problems. On a basic level Mindfulness can help unfold bad habits or addictions.
- Smile – We live in a hectic digital world where “real” expressions are often hidden. So remember to always smile at people everyday… the best fighters are never angry! Smiling also relaxes the muscles in the face which contributes towards easing tension in the body. People always like to be around those that smile the most.
- Feel – This is core to all forms of Martial Arts. Every movement, technique or Kata must entail feeling and intention. We can practice this everyday when we are eating or talking to someone. Although malti-tasking is a great modern phenomenon… it often stops us from feeling. Imagine trying to talk to someone you love and at the same texting or typing something to someone else. Does this ring a bell?? Remember feeling can only happen from the heart and with intention. Do one thing at a time!
- Integrity – For me this is the most important rule of all; Bushido. All Martial Artists regardless of style must conduct themselves with the highest moral and ethical standards. This applies to training or general behaviour within the Dojo, at home or school/work. A well polished Martial Artist should possess the skill set required to calm their mind particularly during conflict or chaos. Remember, it is much easier to engage in a fight than to walk away!
I trust the above rules will help you with your training or perhaps they can be just food for thought. Good luck and I will end this blog with some wise words from the Grand Master:
“True karate is this: that in daily life one’s mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.”